Monday, April 30, 2012

What I'm Reading

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh:

When I came across this "scents-itive" love story at the library, I remembered that two people on my blog list, both with reading tastes similar to mine, have recommended it recently. I checked it out and wasn't disappointed:


Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith:

At our recent Easter gathering, our family's handsome, young detective told me enough about this book to pique my interest. It's a combination of history and fantasy that's great fun to read--if you don't mind a little gore.


The House on Tradd Street by Karen White:

In recent months I've read a string of books set in Charleston, and this is another one of those. I brought this one home from the library late this afternoon and have only read one chapter. So far, so good.

 For a description and reviews of any of these books,
click on its image above.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Things that Dogs Think Are Good Ideas

Levi's new trick:
Outside earlier this week, on each of four separate occasions, I chatted with a different neighbor over a different section of my back fence. Levi and Gimpy were outside with me. On each of those occasions, Levi repeatedly pushed his tennis ball under the fence, and each neighbor dutifully threw it back for him--several times apiece.

Gimpy's new trick:
Outside earlier this week, on one occasion, I chatted with a group of neighbors in the front yard, face to face. Levi and Gimpy were left inside the house. On that occasion, Gimpy must have thought, "Screw the stupid tennis ball; now's my chance to chew the corner off the coffee table."

In Gimpy's defense, this was my fault. I've caught him more than once mouthing the corners of that table, and though I've stopped him each time before he did any damage, his interest in chewing is the main reason he still gets locked in the crate when I leave the house. This time, maybe because I wasn't really going anywhere except a few feet out the front door, it didn't even cross my mind to lock him up.

In his further defense, he was very sorry. As soon as I stepped back inside the house and screamed, "Omigod, what have you done??!!??" his face scrunched up, his posture slumped, and the tip of his tail (the rest of which of which was tucked tightly against his backside) beat a frantic, nervous rhythm. He was clearly repentant as I talked to him in my shaming voice, calling him a bad boy and telling him how disappointed I was.

Levi watched with what appeared to be mild curiosity, as if he has dissociated himself from any of the similar lectures he got up until six or eight months ago, when he apparently decided it was time to grow up and stop eating my house.

Gimpy's apology was so charming that I couldn't stay mad at him, but I'm still annoyed at  myself for giving him the opportunity to make that kind of mistake. Shame on both of us.

Monday, April 23, 2012

What I'm Reading: House Rules

Just finished this one and enjoyed it very much. It's about an 18-year-old boy with Asperger's syndrome and what happens when he becomes entangled in the legal system.

For a description and reviews of this book,
click on the image above.

Just for the record, I'm not trying to sell you something when I link book images to Although I've bought many, many books there in the past, these days most of my reading material comes from the public library. Nevertheless, is still my favorite, go-to place to find professional and customer reviews on almost any book title that catches my attention. In the case of House Rules, some of the reviews were written by people who actually have Asperger's Syndrome, and I found it especially interesting to read their thoughts about this book.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sepia Saturday: All Around Packy's Garden

The Sepia Saturday site has changed its prompt from a word to a photo, leaving us with a broader range of theme interpretation. This week's photo features a group of girls working in a flower garden, and I am choosing to focus on the "garden" aspect of it rather than the "flowers."

This is the Missouri home of my grandparents, Lewis (Packy) and Lola (Mammaw):

It was in this home that my little sister and I grew up. Behind the house, the backyard was divided right down the center by a grapevine-bordered path. The lawn in the eastern half of the backyard was mowed short. That was where our swing set stood, where the grownups' lawn swing sat, and where freshly laundered wash dried on the clothesline every Monday that it didn't rain.

Here's a photo of my sister and me (that's me on the left) in that half of the backyard:
The house at the center left of the photo belonged to our neighbor, Mrs. Woods, who was a college professor. At center right you can see the back of our garage, to which is attached an unpainted wooden bicycle shed that Packy (who worked at a furniture store) built from a piano crate.

Now, in the next photo, please look behind me (standing on the ladder of the swing set) and through the wire fence holding up the grapevine. There is Packy's garden:

He worked in that garden every evening of the growing season, and Mammaw put the fresh food he grew on our table all summer long. What we didn't eat fresh, she canned to feed us through the winter.

I have one more picture that shows the (western) garden half of the backyard, this one taken from the back steps of the house and looking out toward the alley that ran the length of the block behind all the homes:

This photo brings several things to my mind:
1) If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you might be barely able to see the spray of the water sprinkler at my feet. I still remember how cool that spray felt on a hot summer afternoon. 
2) At the end of the path behind us is a wooden structure that surrounded our trash-burning barrel. It was inside that container that our Uncle Joe was once asked to burn all the post-Christmas gift-wrapping trash and instead burned the boxes containing all of our tree ornaments.
3) The little cottage just across the narrow alley sat in the backyard of a larger house and was occupied by Mrs. Belisle, whose daughter, Bluize, in fact had brown ones. I wonder if my sister remembers Bluize's son, nicknamed "Dukie," who was our playmate for a few years.

More than vegetables grew in Packy's garden. Memories did. And little girls.


For this week's Saturday Song Selection, I had  planned to post a video of a favorite old hymn entitled "In the Garden," and if you love that one as much as I do, you can find the Elvis Presley version of it here. Those plans changed, however, when I came across a similarly titled song that I'd never heard before. It's a really good song, and the sepia images that the videographer chose to accompany it are beyond beautiful.


The song is "In the Garden" by Van Morrison.
Enormous thanks to MrKathsic for posting this video (along with a link to the lyrics in the info section below it) on YouTube.

To see how others have interpreted this week's theme,
click on the image below and follow the links.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The eyes have it

My two boys look so much alike, even though Levi's hair is trimmed shorter now, that it isn't easy at first glance to tell them apart.

Levi (left) and Gimpy

I guess that's to be expected since they are brothers, born in the same litter. I've never seen their parents, but before I brought Levi home, I did see photos my niece had posted of Trooper and Phoebe, their father and mother.

Now that Gimpy has joined our family, I'm studying both dogs closely, paying attention to their physical similarities and differences as well as their behavioral ones. After their easily observable difference in size, the next thing I noticed is that their eyes are different, both in shape and in color. Gimpy's are a warm, soft brown, and Levi's are lighter, an amber or caramel color. Curiosity about the eye differences sent me back online to study their parents' photos on my niece's website and facebook page. That's where my eye questions were answered. Voila:

Levi with their mother, Phoebe

Gimpy with their father, Trooper

Genetics is interesting, don't you think?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sepia Saturday: A Flight of Imagination

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt is FLIGHT. As it happens, I posted my best "flight" photos earlier this year, before I ever heard of Sepia Saturday. They featured my father and his soldier buddies enjoying a photo-op with a downed WWII aircraft. Luckily, a cousin recently sent me some more pictures that were obviously taken on that same day.

My father, Paul, is the good-looking guy on the left in both photos.

If you want to see the other pictures of these young soldiers on their rare day of fun in wartime France, click here.


Let's move into the 21st century for this week's Saturday Song Selection and listen to another flight of imagination, this one about a "Holiday in Spain." I love this song.


The song is "Holiday in Spain" by Counting Crows.
Thanks to suzanne262 for posting this video and the lyrics on YouTube.

Click on the image below and follow the list of links
to see how other bloggers interpreted the "flight" theme.

Friday, April 13, 2012

"He ain't just a playmate, he's my brother"

After much anticipation, I'm pleased to announce that Levi's long-awaited companion arrived from Texas this morning. Introducing (drumroll, please) GIMPY!

Gimpy (foreground) and Levi (rear)

As the title states, Gimpy is Levi's brother. As in full brother. As in littermate. They were together for the first five months of their lives. The picture below, taken by my niece days before I got Levi, shows the two of them back then:

I can't tell which dog is which.

My niece, who raised this litter, kept Gimpy for her own family. He was born with nerve damage in his right front leg, and they became especially attached to him as he bravely hobbled around doing everything all the other puppies did. They're still attached to him, but they gave him up for his benefit--and for mine and Levi's.

I knew back in December that I wanted to get another dog. Butch was very old, and I wanted to bring another dog into the pack so Levi wouldn't be left alone when Butch's days were done. Those plans fell through when Butch became very ill, and Levi, at the same time, developed a bad limp. I had all I could handle then, and I knew darned well that Butch did, too.

And so we waited. We waited until Levi's limp was healed and after that until nothing else could be done to prolong Butch's life. And then we waited some more. The niece who owned  Barkley, Levi's half-brother that I had planned to get, had second thoughts about giving him up, but my other niece, who owned Gimpy, said she might be willing to let me have him. They had five dogs, and she felt that Gimpy might be happier in a place where he could be an inside dog. I was thrilled at that idea.

Still we waited. I had a medical scare and didn't want to take on the care of another pet until cardiology tests proved nothing serious was going on. After that, we waited for my niece to break the news to her young son that Gimpy might be better off where he could live indoors, and then we waited for that brave little boy to reach the same conclusion.

Then it became a question of logistics. Between birthdays, Easter celebrations, and other obligations on each side of the Texas/Louisiana state line, we couldn't find a time to get together in the same place to put Gimpy into my hands. And then last week, suddenly, the niece who owns Barkley announced that she and her family were coming through here on their way to New Orleans, and they volunteered to bring Gimpy with them. I couldn't believe it was finally going to happen.

Gimpy was frightened when they dropped him off here this morning. He tried to climb back into the car as they were leaving, and, once we had him in the house, he looked around for a way to get back outside to the people he knew. He was extremely nervous for about three minutes. At about the four-minute mark, we took him out the backdoor where Levi waited in the yard. They busied themselves sniffing each other and getting reacquainted for about another minute.

Gimpy (left) and Levi, moving in for the sniff.

About five minutes into Gimpy's first day here, my daughter Kim threw a tennis ball, and in that instant a beautiful friendship was rekindled. Game on.

 Levi had the ball in this picture, but Gimpy reached it first
just as often as Levi did.

Gimpy is about three-fourths the size of Levi. Despite his gimpy leg, he can run like the wind. He and Levi have played a lot of ball today. They've also played chase through the house, taking turns being "it." And when I sat down at the computer to write this post, they both lay down, a few feet apart. They've been napping together ever since.

I think these two brothers will prove to be a match made in Heaven. I'm so happy--and so grateful to everyone who helped to get the two of them back together.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter 2012

I've had a good nap since my last post and am now ready to show you some photos from our Easter Sunday afternoon at my younger daughter's house. Since my adult children and grandchildren may or may not want me to post images of them in their bathing suits, I'll skip right to the great-grandchildren.

Here's Owen:

Scratching "carpentry" off his to-do list.

Happy in the pool.

Learning to kick.

And here's Olivia:

Focusing on something she wants--the visiting dog, I believe.

Dancing in her pretty pink swimsuit.

Here you can see what Livvy was seeing.

In addition to cute babies, we also had cute animals there. I didn't get pictures of the bluebirds or the hummingbirds, but I did get these:

The new baby chicks (my "grandchickens") . . .

. . . and Chi-Chi, the visiting dog, who was so small
that she had little "chicken legs" of her own.

The weather was wonderful. It was a day full of cool blues and greens . . .

. . . and warm love and sunshine.

And another week has flown by...

It came to my attention many years ago that the older we get, the faster time passes. But this week? Seems like the days have gone by at the speed of light. If time goes any faster than this, I'm gonna have to grab onto something solid and hold on tightly.

So, this week I've read some, cleaned house some, shopped a couple of times, walked some (though not every day like I'm supposed to), played ball with Levi for hours on end, and slept more than I should have. It's allergy season. Allergies make me dizzy, and antihistamines to control the dizziness make me drowsy. I'll choose sleeping over spinning every time.

The only day of the past week that stands out in my mind is Easter Sunday. In fact, I began writing this with the intention of showing you a few photos from that beautiful day. And maybe I'll do that this afternoon. Right now, though, I feel another nap coming on.  

What I'm Reading: Catching Fire and Mockingjay

The Hunger Games left me ravenously hungry for the other two books in the series, and I have happily devoured those this week. Such an imagination Suzanne Collins has!

For a description and reviews of either
of these books, click on its image above.

Thursday, April 05, 2012



See that bird in the picture above? While I was watching him, he was watching me. Like a hawk.

House Finch

I'm refilling the feeders more frequently than ever before, trying to lure these beauties  close enough to take wonderful photos of them. But they're cautious, these birds. Oh, I hear their raucous, back-yard parties, and I can watch them through my window, but the instant I step outside with my camera, they're up and away in bright-feathered flashes.


The best way I've found to see the birds is to park my own self in a chair near the feeders. I see plenty of them that way. I see them swoop toward the cache of sunflower seeds, only to reverse course when they spot me sitting there, partially hidden by the privacy fence. They go to the trees and the rooftops then, where they sit and wait. And watch me. They cock their little heads from side to side to get a better look, and I know that if they had tiny wristwatches, they'd be checking them, wondering how much longer it would be before I go back inside where I belong.


So, I don't get sharp, clear, images of beautiful birds. Instead I get slightly fuzzy photos like the ones I'm posting here today, shot with a zoom lens and a bird-loving heart that yearns daily for a close-up.

What I'm Reading: The Hunger Games and Downtown

Despite all the hoopla about The Hunger Games, I resisted reading it for a long time. Of course, when I finally gave in this past weekend, I was hooked almost from the beginning. It isn't the best book I've ever read, but it's so different that I couldn't wait to turn each page and see what would happen next. Having finished it, I'm still just as curious, and the library has such a long waiting list for the second and third volumes of the trilogy that I've ordered them online.

For something to read while waiting for that order to be delivered, I dug around in my own bookshelves and was pleased when that search turned up a 1995 Anne Rivers Siddons book. I've read several of hers in the past few months and liked all but one of them so much I was surprised to have forgotten this one:

If you're too young to remember the vibrant atmosphere of the 1960s, Downtown will make you feel like you were there. It was an amazing time to be alive.

For a description and reviews of either
of these books, click on its image above.